The Tube

Of all the transport systems in the world I truly believe the London Underground is one of the classics. Sure, the French have that lovely Gothic script on their signage, and New York has a system that has grown from being no mans land, to something for everyone – but, in my mind the one that springs to mind is always London. It gets confusing with underground systems, countries, and even cities, have their own name for them – Paris has the Metro, Germany the U-Bahn. The London Underground got its nickname, The Tube, unsurprisingly, due to the circular construction of its tunnels.

While it may not be the biggest network in the world (only 12th), it is the oldest – first construction was in 1863 of the then named Metropolitan Railway – a steam hauled system, sure to leave commuters a bit dirty. But, what sets it apart is the way the system has engaged with its users – creating iconic imagery such as the Tube Map, which has inspired artists to create imitations, such as The Great Bear by Simon Patterson. London Underground also created Art On the Underground to provide new and emerging artists with visual space in carriages and stations to display work, including poetry and murals. It may still be an expensive, overcrowded system – but, if you get it right it can also be one of those pleasures to travel on.

The Great Bear re-invents the tube map

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